(NEWSER) – Dalene Bowden's response when a 12-year-old at Idaho's Irving Middle School told her she was hungry but didn't have any money seemed like a no-brainer: The food service worker gave the girl a free hot meal. In response, she received a letter of termination, describing her theft of school district property, reports the Idaho State Journal.

Bowden, who is now on termination leave pending a hearing, says she offered to pay for the $1.70 lunch, but her supervisor wouldn't accept her money. "I know I screwed up, but what are you supposed to do when the kid tells you that they're hungry and they don't have any money?" says Bowden, acknowledging she was once warned about giving a student a free cookie. "I offered to pay for the meal and I don't think I deserved to lose my job over it," she adds. "This is just breaking my heart."

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